Asian Bunker Syphoning Incidents Up in 2014

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Tuesday January 13, 2015

Incidents of fuel and oil syphoning rose in Asia in 2014, according to a report released Friday by intergovernmental organisation The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP).

"Siphoning of ship fuel/oil is not a new trend, but the frequency of such incidents has escalated since April 2014," said ReCAAP.

A total of 15 incidents of fuel or oil syphoning from ships were reported in 2015, 12 of which were successful.

According to the report, at least three organised groups were involved in perpetrating the robberies.

One of the groups is believed to operate around the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, while another, better equipped group acts in the South China Sea, and a third group with possible connections to Indochina is suspected of committing attacks on larger vessels.

The report suggests that robberies may be linked to crime syndicates and could include inside-jobs.

"Conspiracy between perpetrators and ship's crew cannot be ruled out," said ReCAAP.

All boardings happened during hours of darkness and the vast majority of robberies were from tankers of between 1,000 and 3,000 gross tonnes, although the largest vessel accosted was over 5,000 gross tonnes.

Be prepared

Gangs of less than 10 were responsible for the robberies in the most part, with assailants usually remaining on board for up to 10 hours.

The report mentions one incident where the target tanker went missing for 49 days, however.

While gangs were reportedly usually armed with knives and firearms, there were no reports of firearms being discharged and crews were largely left unharmed.

ReCAAP said it last year worked with shipping companies and shipping associations as well as bodies such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and Interpol to increase awareness of such activities.

"Preparedness and pro-active action by shipping companies are fundamental to the prevention of this illegal activity," said ReCAAP, recommending that risk analyses and regular crew background checks were among good practice.

"There is a dire need to strengthen national coordination among the littoral States through their respective enforcement agencies to curb illegal siphoning activities," it added.

The International Maritime Bureau said in October that a rise in robberies from South East Asian tankers bucked the trend for falling piracy rates worldwide.